Tennis ace Roger Federer has stressed that he is no more 24 and that he would limit his activity in the upcoming clay season after dominating the hard courts early in the season with three titles. The 34-year-old though revealed that he will play the French Open, starting 29 May.
Federer raced to his 26th Masters 1000 crown after making light work of his arch-rival Rafael Nadal in straight sets (6-3, 6-4) on Sunday to complete a sunshine double with back-to-back titles at Indian Wells and Miami. The 18-time Grand Slam champion has been at his best since he made a comeback after deciding to rest through the second half of last year.
The "dream run" started when he rallied against odds to win his 18th Slam title, beating Nadal in a marathon five-setter at the Australian Open. He suffered a blip at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, in which he was beaten in the second round by Russia's Evgeny Donskoy, which is also his only loss this season. However, he made amends for his early exit by winning the Indian Wells title, beating Nadal enroute to the final, in which he outclassed compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka.
Federer has had one of the best starts to a season this year and is currently holding a 19-1 record, which also includes a 7-0 record against top-10 players. The Swiss champion believes that the break he had last season has helped him and that another period of rest is necessary to keep him fresh for grass and the following hard court season.
The 2009 Roland Garros winner will now miss at least three Masters 1000 tournaments in the clay season - Monte Carlo Masters, Madrid Open and Italian Open - during the break.
"I'm not 24 anymore so things have changed in a big way and I probably won't play any clay court event except the French," Federer told ESPN after Sunday's win, as quoted by the BBC.
"When I am healthy and feeling good, I can produce tennis like this. When I am not feeling this good there is no chance I will be in the finals competing with Rafa [Nadal].
"That is why this break is coming in the clay court season, focusing everything on the French, the grass and then the hard courts after that."
Federer, who will now jump to the fourth spot in ATP rankings, is all set to improve further as he has left rivals Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray behind in the race to year-ending top spot. The in-form Swiss has once again stressed that Wimbledon will be his primary target in what will be an important second half.
"Wimbledon has to be the biggest goal... but all of the grass really is important to me because I will play Stuttgart and Halle there, too," Federer said during the post-match press conference yesterday, according to ATP's official website.
"Then of course I am looking very good for the [ATP] Finals, for the year-end championships, where I have been very successful. I like the indoors as well. So for me basically the second half of the season is a big priority now. That's why I'll take a break."